Zoom meetings can very easily feel overwhelming when there are a lot of people involved. A feature called “Breakout Rooms” can help large groups by allowing people to break off into smaller groups. It’s a handy trick to know.

“Breakout Rooms” are similar in concept to working in groups in a real-life office or classroom. People can break off from the main meeting into smaller groups for discussion, then seamlessly join back up with everyone afterward—no need to manage a bunch of separate Zoom calls.

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How to Enable Breakout Rooms in Zoom

Before we can use Breakout Rooms in a meeting, you’ll have to enable the feature for your account. This is only necessary if you’ll be hosting the meeting.

First, sign in to the Zoom website in a web browser such as Google Chrome and select “Settings” on your account page.

sign in and select settings

Scroll down to the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section and toggle on the switch for “Breakout Room.”

toggle on breakout room

While you’re here, enable “Allow host to assign participants to breakout rooms when scheduling” as well.

schedule breakout rooms

Select “Save,” and we’re ready to use Breakout Rooms in a meeting.

How to Use Breakout Rooms in Zoom

To use Breakout Rooms in a meeting, you’ll need to be the host and use the desktop client. That includes Windows, macOS, Linux, and Chrome.

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Now that we’ve enabled the feature, you’ll see a “Breakout Rooms” button on the toolbar. Click it.

breakout rooms button

A pop-up will appear with the Breakout Room options. You can choose the number of rooms and how participants will be divided into them.

  • Assign Automatically: Zoom will randomly put people in rooms.
  • Assign Manually: You choose who goes in which room.
  • Let Participants Choose Rooms: Self-explanatory.

Make your choices and click “Create.”

set up breakout rooms

If you’re assigning people to rooms manually, the next screen will show the list of rooms. Click “Assign” for each room and select the people you want in each.

assign people to rooms

Next, click “Options” for some additional settings. You can put a time length on the Breakout Rooms sessions and choose a countdown in order to give people time to wrap up before you close the rooms.

breakout rooms options

Once you’re done, click “Open All Rooms.” People will be put into the rooms in whatever way you decided. They will be prompted to accept joining a room or to select a room on their own.

open all rooms

While the Breakout Rooms are happening, you can click the toolbar’s button to bring up the menu. From here, you can “Broadcast Message to All.”

broadcast a message to the rooms

Enter a message and click “Broadcast.” The message will appear on the screen for all participants.

broadcast a message

When you’re ready to end the Breakout Rooms, click “Close All Rooms” from this same menu.

close the breakout rooms

That’s all there is to it. Zoom will save your settings and room assignments, so if you want to break out again during the same meeting, you won’t have to set it all up again. This is a convenient feature to know about if you organize a lot of large meetings.

If you’re ever using Google Meet or Microsoft Teams for a meeting, those also offer a similar breakout room feature.

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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